Setting Contexts

The New Kid on the Block – iGTD

Posted in Actiontastic, GTD, iGTD, MailTags, productivity, Quicksilver, Software by jquig99 on April 11, 2007

There’s a new kid on the (very) crowded GTD space – iGTD. I’ve been playing with this app (which seems to get an update almost each day) for a week now, and while I’m not ready to leave Actiontastic yet, this is a great alternative.

What I really like about this app (besides it’s simplicity, MailTags integration and the AutoBackups) is the actual website. There’s an a active forum (which the developer seems to be very involved in), a blog, a wiki, a “Tips and Tricks” page, a page on Keyboard shortcuts (and who doesn’t love those?), a page just on Quicksilver integration (see editorial comment on Keyboard shortcuts), a Help/Feedback page, a Thanks page and finally – a page to Donate*. And people should.

Merlin Mann has also been taking it for a spin and shared his thoughts today on 43Folders.

Features include: (from the Wiki)
> Tasks
> Contexts
> Hierarchical Projects
> Process your tasks
> Keyboard Control
> Quicksilver Integration
> iGTD on the menu bar

While this is not my GTD app of choice, iGTD is a clean, powerful application that let’s you get on with your work in a “mind like water” manner.

* Jon! Time to add a Donate button (or page) to Actiontastic!

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More on Mail Integration w/Actiontastic

Posted in Actiontastic, GTD, Mail Act-On, MailTags, Online Productivity by jquig99 on March 28, 2007

A little more about how I work with Mail.app and Actiontastic

Once I download my email I quickly go through and, using MailTags, quickly tag my email by Project and Keywords. I can then assign the email as a ToDo or an Event. If it’s a ToDo, I assign it to the @Inbox calendar (which syncs to iCal on the first Actiontastic sync).

MailTags - 2.0b8(Beta)

After I’ve tagged each email, I use Mail Act-On to sort them quickly into folders (using rules that I’ve set up) with 2 keystrokes each.

Mail Act-On

Once finished, I sync with Actiontastic, which puts anything that’s in the @Inbox calendar into the Inbox. The URL of each message is part of the message so that it can be recalled if needed.

For more information, click this link.

My GTD System (March 2007) – Daily Process

I decided that it was time that I actually put down my current GTD system, with all of the individual tools/applications that I’m currently using (on my MacBook Pro). This includes my daily, weekly and monthly routine. I labeled this with the current month because I am always tweaking my process and looking to test and apply better tools to help me be more productive.

Collection:
My primary tool for the collection process is a 12-month Daily 2007 Moleskine diary. I had used a general lined Moleskine notebook for the last year and wasn’t sure that the Diary would have enough room. What it has done is keep me focused in what I write – I don’t use it to keep my schedule, just my notes, thoughts and actions.

Everything is then put into Actiontastic. I’ve posted about this application before, and I have really adopted it as my GTD application of choice. As soon as I get to work, I open Actiontastic and put everything into the Inbox function from my Moleskine.

I use (mostly) Actiontastic’s integration with Quicksilver to get things into the Inbox. I’ll go into how I use Quicksilver (my favorite Mac app) in a separate post, but I use the Quicksilver=>Actiontastic Inbox throughout the day.

I then open Mail.app and using Mail Act-On, MailTags and an Applescript (“toiCalInbox” set up to run as part of my Mail Act-On rules) included with the Actiontastic download. In Mail.app I also have folders set up for review (@Action, @Hold, @Respond, @Wait On, @Someday). Once I sort things into my folders, I run my “toiCalInbox” script which sends actionable email to iCal, then I hit the sync button on Actiontastic which brings it all into the Inbox. Sounds like a long process – in actuality only a few minutes.
Inbox

Processing:
Once everything I need is in the Inbox – and while I do send things throughout the day, I only process first thing in the morning, after lunch and before I leave for the day (this is flexible as needed) – I hit the Process Inbox button (looks like a “Play” button). In Actiontastic I’ve set up my Projects and my Contexts (@calls, @emails, @errands, @mac, @meetings, @shopping, @waiting for, @web, @work) which also sync to iCal. Each item is processed to the appropriate Project and Context, which sets up the Next Actions and ToDos (as well as what’s Done). The new “Anti-Drawer” feature sets up the Start, Due dates (which also has a Paused flag), URL (messages, etc) and Notes.

Inbox processing

Once I’ve processed my Inbox (again – this happens in minutes!), I hit the sync button so that everything is brought back to iCal (each context is a separate calendar). Which is great to then sync to my Blackberry 7100g (via Mark/Space’s new Missing Sync for Blackberry). I’m then free to actually work without having to really focusing on process. As each item gets done, I can tick it off and then during my Inbox processing times throughout the day everything continues to sync so that it’s all up to date.

Projects

Contexts

I’m adding the screenshots that I’ve posted before to illustrate the process. In my next post, I’ll focus on my weekly and monthly review process and the different applications that I use for those purposes.

37Signals – Highrise is released!

Posted in 37signals, Actiontastic, Basecamp, CMS, GTD, Highrise, Online Productivity by jquig99 on March 20, 2007

I’ve been playing with 37Signals new Highrise application for the last 24 hours and think that it’s a great Contact Management resource (CMS). There’s a great tour that walks you through the entire application and all of it’s many features.

Since I’ve been using Basecamp (another 37Signals app) for over 2 years, many of these features are familiar to me. There’s a 30-day free trial (although you do have to give them a credit card) and I decided that I wanted to test the Plus plan ($49/month). The Plus plan includes up to 15 users, 1GB of file storage, Cases (a really interesting feature), SSl and 20,000 contacts. There are six levels in the Highrise pricing plan and I wanted to experience the whole application – especially the “cases“.

After I signed-up, I immediately imported my contacts into my account by exporting my iCal contacts as a group vCard. You can manually add contacts, upload vCards and also import from Basecamp accounts (We use Basecamp as an internal project management tool that we don’t share with clients, so that didn’t work for me!). After importing contacts, I set up my first case. What’s great about cases is that I can share them with the people directly involved with these projects. I had originally thought that “Cases” might be able to be adapted as a GTD system, but while it has some great features – Actiontastic is still my GTD app of choice. Highrise may work for some people for a GTD app, just not for me right now.

Features:
> Contacts – each contact has a page that includes a photo, contact info, tags, notes, files, tasks and more
> Tasks – Can be assigned to yourself or others. Action categories can be added (Call, Email, Etc.) and reminders can be sent by email or cell phone.
> Permissions – specify who can see whatever.
> Users and Groups – You can invite people to join your account and set the permissions for people, notes and cases.
> Cases – Keeps everything all together. Great to organize projects with its notes, tasks, files, images, people and more.
> Email friendly – Forward email to the Highrise dropbox and it will automatically be attached to the specific contacts page.

Highrise also has a FAQs and an active Forum. The 37Signals crew heavily participate in the forum on all topics – even those that may be less than a constructive critique.

Actiontastic screenshots

Posted in Actiontastic, Apple, GTD, Software by jquig99 on March 4, 2007

I’m enjoying my experience with Actiontastic. Here are some screenshots of my process – feel free to comment with any questions.
First the Inbox – this is where I dump everything I need to get done:
Inbox

Second: This is how I process the Inbox: daily – 1st thing, noon and before I leave for home.
Inbox processing

Third: The Projects Window:
The Projects window

Last (For now): The Contexts Screen:
The contexts window

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Actiontastic

Posted in Actiontastic, GTD, Software by jquig99 on March 4, 2007

Actiontastic is a beta application that is a beautifully clean GTD application. In a market where much of the competition is feature/interface bloated, Actiontastic brings a refreshingly simple take on GTD.

Features:
> Clean interface
> Comes with preloaded contexts
> Syncs with iCal
> Smart-text Quicksilver integration
> The developer is accessible and really pays attention to comments/requests
> Integration with Mail.app and MailTags

I’ve been using this app for a few months and have really b een impressed. It seems to flow easily and lets me work without concentrating on the actual process. Perfect. The new smart text QS upgrade/MailTags integration has taken this app up to another level.

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